Sunday, September 24, 2017

Stephen Stills – "Change Partners" (1971)


So we change partners
Time to change partners

According to Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux were fraternal twin brothers who had different fathers.  

Castor was the mortal son of King Tyndareus and Queen Leda of Sparta.  But Pollux was one of the immortals, because his father was Zeus – who had taken the form of a swan and seduced Leda after she had sex with her husband.  (In some versions of the myth, that Zeus-Leda coupling also resulted in the birth of Helen of Troy.)

"Leda and the Swan" (Rubens)
Castor and Pollux got into a fight with two of their cousins over the ownership of a herd of cattle, and one of the cousins killed Castor with a spear.  As the son of Zeus, Pollux didn’t have to worry about dying, but he was devastated by his brother’s death.  

Zeus transformed the brothers into the two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini so they could be together forever.

*     *     *     *     *

The myth of Castor and Pollux illustrates the phenomenon of heteropaternal superfecundation – The term used to describe the fertilization of two or more eggs produced during the same cycle by sperm deposited by different fathers.  (Homopaternal superfecundation is the term used to describe the fertilization of two or more eggs produced during the same cycle by sperm deposited during two separate acts of sexual intercourse by the same father . . . which is much less naughty.)

Statues of Castor and Pollux in Rome

Genetically, Castor and Pollux are only half-brothers.  By contrast, the offspring of identical twins who marry identical twins are genetically as similar as siblings – but we consider them to be cousins.

*     *     *     *     *

Heteropaternal superfecundation is more common in animals such as cats and dogs than in humans for two reasons.  

First, female cats and dogs routinely produce several eggs each time they ovulate (unlike human females).

Second, female cats and dogs are somewhat more receptive to having sex with multiple partners in a relatively short time span.  (Human females – most of them, at least – are more discriminating.)

*     *     *     *     *

In 2015, a mother of twins went to court in New Jersey to force the man she said was the father of those twins to pay child support.  When she admitted that she had had sex with another man at about the time that she became pregnant, the judge ordered a paternity test.


It turned out that her twins had two different fathers.  So the man she had sued was ordered to pay child support for one twin but not the other one.


*     *     *     *     *

I’m guessing that a lot of instances of heteropaternal superfecundation go unnoticed.

After all, siblings don’t necessarily look that much like one another, and fraternal twins are just siblings who happen to be born at the same time.

The problem comes when there is a difference in the appearance of the twins that makes it obvious that the father of one isn’t the father of both.

Oops!
For example, imagine you have a white mother and a white father, and one of the twins looks a lot like Barack Obama looked like when he was a baby.   

Lucy . . . you got some ‘splaining to do!

*     *     *     *     *

Stephen Stills’ “Change Partners” was released in 1971 on the Stephen Stills 2 album.


Its lyrics were apparently inspired by the country-club dances that Stills attended as a young man growing up in the South – dances where young women often danced with as many different partners as there were musical numbers performed during the course of the evening.

But some viewed the song as a metaphor for the constant comings and goings of the individual musicians who had at one constituted Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The recording features Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar.  

Here’s “Change Partners”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Talking Heads – "Stay Up Late" (1985)


Mommy had a little baby
There he is, fast asleep
He's just a little plaything
Why not wake him up?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, you obviously don’t have any children.

The only thing about babies that makes them tolerable is that they usually sleep a lot – like 15 or 16 hours a day.

I've never forgotten how depressed I was when my identical twin daughters stopped taking a morning nap. 

They still took long afternoon naps and slept a good ten hours every night.  But I needed that morning nap!

*     *     *     *     *

Speaking of identical twins . . .

In the last 2 or 3 lines, you learned about identical twin sisters from Cape Cod whose first babies were born less than 24 hours apart.

Today I’ve got another amazing story about Cape Cod twins.   

Last November, Emily Peterson delivered twin sons at Cape Cod Hospital.  Samuel was born at 1:39 am, followed a short time later by Ronan, who entered the world at 1:10 am.

The Peterson twins
That’s no typo, boys and girls.  

You see, the Peterson twins were born on the night that Daylight Savings Time ended.  Samuel was born 21 minutes before the end of Daylight Savings Time, while Ronan was born ten minutes after standard time went into effect and the clocks were rolled back an hour.

So Samuel was born first – but Ronan’s birth certificate makes it appear that he is 29 minutes older. 

(I told you it was an amazing story.  A-m-a-z-i-n-g!)

 *     *     *     *     *

Today’s featured song was released in 1985 on Little Creatures, which was the best-selling studio album ever released by the Talking Heads.  

My oldest son was two years old when I bought that album, and my twin daughters were born the year after the album was released.  I played it to death back then – especially “Stay Up Late.”

Jack can stay up late whenever he wants
And when my first grandchild was born last year, “Stay Up Late” was one of the first songs I thought of.

*     *     *     *     *

The Talking Heads’ bass player, Tina Weymouth, is married to the band’s drummer, Chris Frantz.  She gave birth to their first child – a boy – not long before the band started work on Little Creatures.  


I have to think that their experiences as parents of a baby boy may have inspired some of the lyrics for “Stay Up Late,” which was written by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne:

Cute, cute little baby
Little pee pee, little toes

The song’s lyrics also reflect the fact that Byrne had no children at that time he wrote them:

Cute, cute as a button
Don't you wanna make him stay up late?

HELL, no!

Here’s “Stay Up Late”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Breeders – "Cannonball" (1993)

Crash!
I'm the last splash

I have two wonderful daughters who just happen to be identical twins, so I’m always interested in reading stories involving twins.

My twins were married seven weeks apart.  One of them had a baby boy – my first grandchild – last July, while the other is due to deliver a boy in January.  That’s an 18-month age difference, which is pretty close.

But not as close as two 34-year-old identical twins from Cape Cod, whose first babies were born only 20 hours apart last month.

Rebecca Pistone and Rachael McGeoch have always loved being twins.  They wanted their children to be close to the same age, which they thought would be the next best thing to having a twin.

Pistone and McGeoch – or
maybe it's McGeoch and Pistone.
From the Cape Cod Times:

Pistone and her husband, William “Todd” Pistone, were married in 2016 and began trying to conceive their first child soon after, McGeoch said.

After several months with no success, Pistone suggested that McGeoch stop her birth control as well, in case it would also take her sister some time to become pregnant.

(It sounds like McGeogh just consulted with her sister – not the prospective father – before deciding to go off birth control and become pregnant.  That was my wife’s approach as well.)

Within a few weeks, McGeoch learned she was pregnant and immediately called her sister.

“You’re supposed to be pregnant first, I’m just supposed to be waiting,” McGeoch said.  “You have to take a test.”

To their surprise, Pistone learned she, too, was pregnant, and the sisters’ due dates were just 13 days apart.

But McGeoch ended up delivering her son William at 10:41 pm on August 15, while her twin – who was assigned a hospital room that was next door to her sister’s – gave birth to her daughter Andi at 6:54 pm the following evening.

William and Andi – or
maybe it's Andi and William
Pistone’s husband is named William, as is McGeoch’s fiancé.  (I’m so old that I remember when women got married before they had babies.) 

The twins’ father is also named William.  (Cue the Twilight Zone theme music.)  But his nickname was “Andy.”

So the names of both babies honor their grandfather, which is exactly as it should be.

Shortly after little William and Andi were born, McGeoch and her fiancé bought a house on the same Cape Cod lake where the Pistones live.  So the two cousins will grow up as neighbors – which is also exactly as it should be.

*     *     *     *     *

“Cannonball” may be the best song ever recorded by a group whose members included identical twins.

Kim Deal was the original bass guitarist for the Pixies.  (Kim had never played the bass before joining the Pixies, but she was the only person who responded to the band’s classified ad seeking a bass player who was a fan of both Peter, Paul and Mary and Hüsker Dü.)  

Her identical twin Kelley was asked to be the drummer for the Pixies, but she chose to move to California and pursue a career as a computer programmer instead.

Kim and Kelley Deal – or
maybe it's Kelley and Kim Deal
A few years after Kim left the Pixies and formed the Breeders, she asked Keeley to be the band’s drummer.  Kelley wanted to be the lead guitarist, although she barely knew how to play the guitar.  I guess Kim couldn’t say no to her twin sister, so she taught Kelley how to play the lead parts.

Today’s featured song was released in 1993 on the band’s second and most successful studio album, Last Splash.  (Is it really possible that “Cannonball” is almost 25 years old?)

I can’t explain why “Cannonball” is a great record, but it is.  I have no idea what the lyrics mean – assuming they mean anything – and the musical structure of the song is elementary.  (It consists of a couple of good riffs, some feedback, and not much else, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.)

Here’s the music video for “Cannonball”) which was directed by our old friend, Spike Jonze):



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Class – "Beach Baby" (1974)


Beach baby, beach baby
Give me your hand
Give me somethin’ that I can remember!

Unlike most Cape Cod visitors, I don’t spend much time on the beach.

But when I do have a hankering to collect sea shells or just feel some sand between my toes, I eschew the busy public beaches where the day trippers and other hoi polloi hang out, and walk down the stairs that lead from our belvedere to the quiet strand below. 

Our beach – from the belvedere
The last time I visited Mayflower Beach, which is only a mile or so to the west of our house, it was to rescue my clueless  son, who had driven the family Toyota Camry on to the beach one Saturday night and gotten stuck in the loose sand.

Did I mention that the tide was coming in?  

I’ll never forget how he described his situation when he called from the Mayflower Beach parking lot: “Dad, I’m in a bit of a bind.”

*     *     *     *     *

I suppose I should be grateful that none of my kids ever called me from a Cape Cod jail.

Four sets of parents did receive such a call when their teenagers were arrested for “acting inappropriately in the water” at about 1:30 pm this past Fourth of July.

I’d give you three guesses as to what that inappropriate behavior was, but do really need three?  Isn’t one guess plenty? 

British newspapers do a much better job reporting on this kind of things than American journalists, so I’m going to quote from the account on the Daily Mail’s website: 

Four teenagers were arrested for allegedly having sex in the sea in full view of a large crowd of beachgoers in Cape Cod during July Fourth celebrations.

(“Large crowd” is no overstatement.  This was 1:30 pm on the Fourth of July at a popular public beach.  It was sunny and about 80 degrees at the time.  You best believe that was one crowded beach.)

Mayflower Beach (Dennis, MA)
According to the police report, a lifeguard first approached a local detective at about 1:30 pm on Independence Day.

The lifeguard informed the detective that he was told that a number of people were having sex in the water. . . .

[Detective Matthew] Turner wrote in his police report that he saw four individuals “embraced with one another” as they swam 100 feet from shore.

(I doubt that the teenagers were actually swimming.  The water is very shallow in that part of Massachusetts Bay – it was probably only waist-high or at most chest-high a hundred feet out.)

“I could not observe exactly what was going on, however both couple[s] were extremely closely embraced,” the detective wrote in his report.

“Each embraced couple were at a minimum kissing and stumbling about in the waves.”

I admire Detective Turner’s delicate prose – “extremely closely embraced” is a very tasteful way to describe the situation.

At the same time, Turner noted there were about 30 people in the water who witnessed the event up close and were cheering on the participants.

Police arresting the extremely
closely embraced teens
“This is disgusting, why is this allowed to go on here,” one angry beachgoer was heard saying.

(Every party has a pooper – that’s why we invited you!)

Turner then started to yell at the teens several times, but they did not respond.

A lifeguard then began to blow a whistle repeatedly, but to no avail, as the teens kept on “embracing and kissing.”

It was only after a second lifeguard entered the water and swam toward them that the youths began to make their approach to shore.

Turner said that as he was in the process of detaining the four teens, he detected a strong smell of alcohol and slurred speech from the entire group.

(That comes as no surprise.)

As the detective was taking the teens into custody, a crowd of about 300 people gathered to watch.

The four made efforts to shield their faces from the public after they walked out of court on Wednesday.

Here’s a photo showing them hiding their faces:


  Did they really think that was going to do any good?  The Daily Mail found about a zillion pictures of the kids on Facebook and Instagram, and posted them on its website.  You can click here to see those photos if you must, but don’t expect to them see on 2 or 3 lines – I despise such exploitative journalism!

The judge agreed to their request to postpone their arraignments while they take part in a program for youth offenders.

I assume that this “program for youth offenders” relates to underage drinking, not “extremely close embracing.”  

*     *     *     *     *

I’ve saved the best detail for last.

Here’s a video that went viral almost immediately after this incident.  In a scene somewhat reminiscent of the legendary American upset of the Russian hockey team at the 1980 Olympics, the crowd is chanting “U – S – A!  U – S – A!” as the hormone-and-alcohol-crazed teenagers extremely closely embrace:



*     *     *     *     *

“Beach Baby” has many of the same characteristics of some of the greatest Beach Boys songs.  But anyone who hears “Beach Baby” and thinks he or she is listening to a Beach Boys record knows nothing about music.

That’s not to say “Beach Baby” isn’t a great pop song, because it is.

That’s not a surprise given that it was co-written by John Carter, who also co-wrote “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” (a #2 hit for Herman’s Hermits), “Little Bit O’ Soul” (a #2 hit for the Music Explosion), and the truly great “My World Fell Down” (which should have been a huge hit for Sagittarius, but inexplicably flopped).   

Carter was one of the founders of the Ivy League, a British trio that had a couple of top ten singles in the UK in 1965. 


Carter was also a successful studio singer – he did backup vocals for the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” and Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual,” and sang lead on “Winchester Cathedral,” a nostalgic oddity that made it to #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1966.

But Carter didn’t sing lead on “Beach Baby.”  He hired Tony Burrows – who had replaced Carter in the Ivy League when Carter got tired of touring – to record that song.

In addition to handling the lead vocal on “Beach Baby” for the First Class, Burrows was also the singer for four different one-hit-wonder group whose sole hits were all released in the first four months of 1970: Edison Lighthouse (“Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes”), White Plains (“My Baby Loves Lovin’”), The Brotherhood of Man (“United We Stand”), and the one and only Pipkins (“Gimme Dat Ding”).

Here’s a video of five musicians who had nothing to do with the recording of “Beach Baby” lip-synching to that record on a TV show.  (The two First Class albums – “Beach Baby” was on the first one – were recorded by a group of studio musicians that Carter put together.  When the song became a hit, he hired five other musicians to perform live as the First Class.)



Click below to buy “Beach Baby” from Amazon:  



Friday, September 15, 2017

Beyond Twilight – "Hellfire" (2001)


Before me now I see a dying planet
Captured souls with microchips implanted 

Radio-frequency identification (“RFID”) microchips were first implanted in pets and other animals over 25 years ago.

An RFID chip, which isn’t much bigger than a grain of rice, has a unique ID number that is recorded in a database when the chip is injected into an animal.  A veterinarian or animal shelter worker equipped with a scanner can read the ID number and go to the database to identify a lost animal’s owner. 

Millions of animals have been implanted with microchips to date.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, microchipped animals are much more likely to be recovered if they are lost or stolen.

An x-ray showing an implanted microchip
Three Square Market, a tech company located in River Falls, Wisconsin, is offering its employees the opportunity to have a microchip implanted in the little flap of skin that’s between the base of your thumb and the base of your index finger (which has a lot of different names – including the purlicue, the thenar space, the thumb crotch, the interdigital fold, the kagina, the pagina, and the flagina).

An employee who has the microchip implanted doesn’t need a card key to get into the building – all he or she need to do is hold his or her hand near a chip-reading device.

And the microchip would make paying for lunch or a snack in the company cafeteria a lot easier – just wave your hand at the reader and go.


Some people are concerned that the device could be used to make sure employees aren't spending too much time in the bathroom, or taking too long to eat lunch.

But the company’s CEO, Todd Westby, told a New York Times reporter that those fears are groundless:

[Westby] emphasized that the chip’s capabilities were limited.  “All it is is an RFID chip reader,” he said. “It’s not a GPS tracking device.  It’s a passive device and can only give data when data’s requested.”

“Nobody can track you with it,” [he] added.  “Your cellphone does 100 times more reporting of data than does an RFID chip.”

*     *     *     *     *

I don’t trust Mr. Westby for as moment.  

I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that his company is working on a technology that will allow wives and girlfriends to track their husbands and boyfriends with these microchips.  


Forget his cover story about enabling employees to gain access to secure building areas without a card key, or to buy a ham sandwich and a bag of chips in the company café without pulling out cash or a debit card.

This is all about women keeping track of the whereabouts of men.  That’s the killer app for implantable microchips.

*     *     *     *     *

I understand that it may be possible to wear a ring that contains a microchip instead of having the chip implanted under the skin.

That’s what I recommend, guys.  (For obvious reasons.)

*     *     *     *     *
  
“Hellfire” was released in 2001 on The Devil’s Hall of Fame, the first studio album from the Danish progressive metal band, Beyond Twilight. 

The Beyond Twilight website explains what The Devil’s Hall of Fame is all about:

[The album] deals with the personality of a human being, hacking his way through a computer into his own mind.  All the things he experiences on this journey are found deep in his subconscious. 

Someone has implanted a chip in his brain and he realizes that some of the files are corrupted while others are missing.  By hacking deeper into his own brain he slowly recaptures bits and pieces of his lost memory and the man commences on an adventurous trip through time. 


He relives past and future situations of his life, such as his own funeral – without being dead.  He falls in and out of love with the same female through different ages of time.  They meet several times through out the story, experiencing passion, anxiety, fear, anger and pain.  He finds the secret key to the strongest and most passionate love of human nature in sadomasochism.  He as the S, she as the M.  And together they live out their most intense dreams.  They are drawn to each other. 

This kind of thing goes on for quite a long time.

Here’s “Hellfire”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Paul Lynde and Marijane Maricle – "Kids" (1960)


Kids!
I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!

I recently saw this headline on the business news website, Business Insider:


The story went on to offer a surprising explanation for stagnating sales at Hooters restaurants:

Millennials are less interested in breasts than their elders.

People from the age of 18 to 24 are 19% less likely to search for breasts on pornographic website Pornhub compared to all other age groups, according to an analysis conducted by the website.

Nice wings!
For comparison, Pornhub visitors from the ages of 55 to 64 are 17% more likely to search for breast-related content. . . . 

For “breastaurants” like Hooters, a loss of interest in breasts is bad for business.  The number of Hooters locations in the US has dropped by more than 7% from 2012 to 2016, and sales have stagnated, according to industry reports.


Here are the states that are the most interested and least interested in breasts:


Despite the relative lack of interest in breasts among millennials, it does appear that American males as a whole are still pretty obsessed with boobs.  According to Pornhub, the United States is #5 in per capita breast-related searches.  

The only four countries whose residents are more likely to do such searches are (in reverse order of ranking) the UK, Canada, Finland, and . . . coming in at #1 . . . Nigeria.  (Really?)

The five countries that generate the least number of breast-related searches relative to their populations are all in South America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.

So just what are South Americans searching for on Pornhub?

*     *     *     *     *

Adding to Hooters’ woes is a new rival breastaurant called Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks is trying to out-Hooter Hooters.  “Hooters just isn’t racy enough,” the founder of Twin Peaks told a reporter in 2014.  Twin Peaks waitresses doff their usual outfits (“tiny plaid shirts and barely-there shorts”) and wear lingerie on special occasions – like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. 

"A job with no sidework"?
Twin Peaks also promises draft beer “served at a teeth-chattering 29 degrees.”  That’s quite a bit colder than beer nerds would say is optimal.

(Alcohol has a lower freezing temperature than water, so beer doesn’t freeze at 29 degrees.  If it gets much colder than that, it will freeze – so don’t leave beer in your freezer.)

I’ve never been in or even seen a Twin Peaks.  The company is headquartered in Dallas — which figures.  (One third of the chain’s 80 restaurants are in Texas.  Most of the rest are in the South and the Midwest.)

The third major breastaurant brand is Tilted Kilt.  I’ve never been in or seen a Tilted Kilt either, although several of that chain’s 50 or so locations are in my neck of the woods.  (Slogan: “A cold beer never looked so good.”)

Tilted Kilt servers
Tilted Kilts have a Celtic theme in contrast to the outdoorsy, wilderness-lodge-style decor of Twin Peaks.

*     *     *     *     *

All these breastaurants offer beer, wings, and lots of big-screen TVs.  Expect to find a real sausage fest if you go to one.

The good news for breastaurants is that while millennials seem to have lost interest in boobs, they still love wings.

Of course, beer never goes out of style.

*     *     *     *     *

The plot of Bye Bye Birdie – which opened on Broadway in 1960, and ran for 607 performances – was inspired by Elvis Presley’s being drafted into the U.S. Army.  

The original Broadway cast included Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde, Chita Rivera, and . . . Michael J. Pollard?  Van Dyke periodically took time off from the show, and his fill-ins included Gene Rayburn and Charles Nelson Reilly, who many of us will remember from their appearances on The Match Game.  (Lynde, of course, is best remembered as a regular on The Hollywood Squares.)

Paul Lynde and Ann-Margret
Van Dyke and Lynde reprised their Broadway roles in the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie.  The female cast members of the movie included Janet Leigh, Maureen Stapleton, and Ann-Margret.

The movie adaptation showcased Ann-Margret’s singing and dancing, and led to her being chosen to co-star with Elvis in Viva Las Vegas.

Van Dyke and Janet Leigh were reportedly unhappy with the film’s focus on her.  Paul Lynde said, “They should have retitled [the movie] Hello Ann-Margret!”   

Here’s the original Broadway cast recording of “Kids”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon:



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Don Fardon – "Indian Reservation" (1968)


They took the whole Indian nation
Locked us on this reservation

We Americans have many reasons to be proud of our country.  But we have a some things to answer for as well.

I think that most people would agree that the darkest blot on American history was the enslavement of millions of Africans and their descendants.

But if our treatment of native Americans wasn’t equally shameful, it came very close.

*     *     *     *     *

In his biography of Adolf Hitler, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland wrote that “Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history.”


According to Toland, Hitler “admired the camps . . . for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination – by starvation and even combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”

Hitler was apparently “very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations.”

 *     *     *     *     *

The three men most responsible for bringing the Plains Indians to their knees were Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Philip Sheridan, who historian Michael Fellman has referred to as the “great triumvirate of the Civil War.”  

The three men, Fellman wrote, “applied their shared ruthlessness, born of their Civil War experiences, against a people all three despised” – the Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche, and other Indian tribes who lived on the Great Plains.

*     *     *     *     *

In 1869, Phil Sheridan met the Comanche chief, Tosawi, at Fort Cobb, Oklahoma.  “Me good Indian,” the chief told Sheridan, who is said to have replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”  (Sheridan denied making that statement but many historians believe he did, in fact, say it – or something very similar.)

Sherman’s attitude toward native Americans was just as hardhearted, if not more so.  Sherman once wrote these words to his brother John, who was a U.S. Senator:

The more we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed [in] the next war.

This statue of Sherman
stands near the White House
Sherman advocated harsh treatment of all Indians – not just the warriors.  Here’s what he said in an 1866 letter to Grant:

We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children. . . . During an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. 

Sherman must have liked “vindictive earnestness” because he used it again in an 1868 communication to the commander of a Kansas fort:

I propose that General Sheridan shall prosecute the war with vindictive earnestness against all hostile Indians till they are obliterated or beg for mercy.

By “hostile Indians,” Sherman meant all Indians who refused to capitulate and move to a reservation.  

As far as Sherman was concerned, the Plains Indian tribes had two choices.  If they surrendered and agreed to settle on a reservation, they would be allowed to live.  If they didn’t, they would be hunted down and killed.

It seems clear which outcome Sherman was rooting for.  “Probably in the end it will be better to kill them all,” he once wrote his wife.  

*      *     *     *     *

When Grant was elected President in 1868, Sherman – who had fought side-by-side with Grant in the Civil War – succeeded him as the commanding general of the U.S. Army. 

This statue of Grant stands near the U.S. Capitol
Sherman quickly began to apply the strategies that had been so effective in the Civil War to the Army’s operations against the Plains Indians.  

From a 1994 article by history professor David Smits:

The Civil War had taught Sherman that the enemy's power to resist depended not only upon its military strength, but also upon the will of its people.  He had learned that to shatter the enemy's will to resist, it was necessary to destroy his ability to supply his armies.  The man who desolated much of the South did so with the conviction that his Army of the Tennessee “must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war”; Sherman relied on the same strategy to subdue the Plains Indians.

Sherman concluded that the most effective way to force those Indians to cry uncle  was to annihilate the buffalo herds in the region.  In a letter to Grant, he referred to this strategy as “the final solution” to the Indian problem.  (Hitler used the same phrase some 70 years later.)

From an 1869 report in the Army Navy Journal:

General Sherman remarked, in conversation the other day, that the quickest way to compel the Indians to settle down to civilized life was to send ten regiments of soldiers to the plains, with orders to shoot buffaloes until they became too scarce to support the redskins.

A George Catlin painting of a
Plains Indian hunting a buffalo
Once there were no longer enough buffalo left to feed the Plains Indian tribes, they would have to move to reservations or starve to death. 

*     *     *     *     *

Sherman assigned primary responsibility for the war on the buffalo herds to General Philip Sheridan, who had contributed to the Union’s eventual victory in the Civil War by laying waste to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, a fertile region that had supplied large amounts of food and forage to Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army.

It quickly became apparent that there weren’t enough troops in all the cavalry and artillery regiments stationed in the American West to reduce the size of the buffalo herds sufficiently to force the Plains tribes to submit.

But when hordes of civilian hunters began to descend on the Great Plains in hopes of making their fortunes by killing buffalo, Sheridan had found the solution to his problem.  

He ordered his officers to assist the hunters, and opposed efforts by conservation-minded state legislators to protect the buffalo herds from indiscriminate slaughter.

Here is an excerpt from an eyewitness account of Sheridans testimony before the Texas legislature, which was considering a buffalo protection measure:

He told them that instead of stopping the hunters they ought to give them a hearty, unanimous vote of thanks, and appropriate a sufficient sum of money to strike and present to each one a medal of bronze, with a dead buffalo on one side and a discouraged Indian on the other.  He said, “These men have done in the last two years, and will do more in the next year, to settle the vexed Indian question, than the entire regular army has done in the last thirty years.  They are destroying the Indians’ commissary; and it is a well-known fact that any army losing its base of supplies is placed at a great disadvantage.  Send them powder and lead, if you will; but, for the sake of a lasting peace, let them kill, skin, and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated.”

These buffalo skulls will
be made into fertilizer
“Sheridan was the officer most responsible for promoting the annihilation” of the great buffalo herds, according to Professor Smits, whose article concludes as follows:

In the end, the frontier army’s well-calculated policy of destroying the buffalo in order to conquer the Plains Indians proved more effective than any other weapon in its arsenal.  Too small and too inept to vanquish the plains tribes expeditiously, the army aided and was in turn aided by the “sportsmen” and professional hunters who, along with the army itself, managed to destroy the Indians’ staff of life.  With the mainstay of their diet gone the Indians had no choice but to accept a servile fate on a reservation where they could subsist on government handouts.  From the Indian perspective the buffalo’s disappearance was a shattering blow. . . . Sitting Bull summed up the results of the annihilation: “A cold wind blew across the prairie when the last buffalo fell – a death-wind for my people.”

*     *     *     *     *

Statues and of Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson are becoming an endangered species.  Those who support the removal of such statues from public buildings and parks ask why in the world are we honoring men who fought to preserve slavery and white supremacy.

Perhaps it’s time to question why we’re honoring men who committed cultural genocide against the Plains Indian tribes, and who were prepared to commit literal genocide if those tribes had not surrendered.

My first home in Washington was a stone’s throw from Sheridan Circle, a traffic circle on Massachusetts Avenue that featured a large equestrian statue of Philip Sheridan.

The Sheridan Circle statue of Philip Sheridan
There’s a towering statue of Sherman on the grounds of the White House, and a statue of Grant just below the west front of the United States Capitol.  

Of course, Washington is not the only city with monuments to these three men.  There’s another equestrian statue of Sheridan in Chicago, and New Yorkers are familiar with the famous Sherman statue on Fifth Avenue, just south of Central Park, and the General Grant National Memorial, which is usually referred to as “Grant’s Tomb.”  (The website for the Grant memorial says that Grant “strove to . . . make rights for all citizens a reality.”  Native Americans would beg to differ with that statement.)

Those who are demonstrating for the removal of Confederate memorials seem to be turning a blind eye to statues of Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.

This statue of Sherman stands in New York City
The author of this comment on the Washington Post’s website isn’t surprised by that rampant hypocrisy: 

I don’t see how the monuments to Gens. Philip Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant can remain in Washington, D.C., in our new climate of how to publicly remember history.  All three men were a part of the near-genocide of the Great Plains Indians in the post-Civil War era.

But then again, [Washington] is the same town that tolerates the Washington Redskins franchise name.

*     *     *     *     *

“Indian Reservation” was written by the late John D. Loudermilk, Jr., who penned a number of country and pop hits – including one of my favorite obscure singles from the sixties, “Tobacco Road” by the Nashville Teens.


Marvin Rainwater’s original 1959 recording of the song was titled “The Pale Faced Indian.”  Rainwater, who was one-quarter Cherokee, was a regular on Ozark Jubilee, a live country music television show that was broadcast from Springfield, Missouri.  You can click here to listen to Rainwater’s recording of the song.

The best-known recording of the song was the Raiders’ 1971 cover, which reached #1 on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  You can click here to listen to it.  

But I’ve decided to feature the English pop singer Don Fardon’s version of the song, which I don’t remember ever hearing although it made it to #20 on the “Hot 100” in the summer of 1968.

Here’s Don Fardon’s “Indian Reservation”:



Click below to buy the song from Amazon: